Cole Swensen, Translator
Now, Now, Louison
by Jean Frémon
The extraordinary artist, the spider woman, the intellectual, the rebel, the sly enchantress, and the “good girl” sing together in this exuberant, lithe text beautifully translated by Cole Swensen.
This brilliant portrait of the renowned artist Louise Bourgeois (1911– 2010) shows a woman who was devoted to her art and whose life was also that of her century. The art world’s grande dame and its shameless old lady, spinning personal history into works of profound strangeness, speaks with her characteristic insolence and wit, through a most discreet, masterful writer. From her childhood in France to her exile and adult life in America, to her death, this phosphorescent novella describes Bourgeois’s inner life as only one artist regarding another can.
Included as an afterword is Frémon’s essay about his own “portrait writing” and how he came to know and work with Louise Bourgeois.
Jean Frémon is a renowned French gallerist and writer and has written art-historical works on artists including Robert Ryman, Antoni Tàpies, and Robert Walser. He worked with Louise Bourgeois on her first European exhibition in 1985 at the Galerie Lelong, and on the last exhibition she organized herself, at the Maison de Balzac.
Cole Swensen is the author of 17 volumes of poetry, most recently On Walking On (Nightboat Books, 2017) and a volume of critical essays, Noise That Stays Noise. Her books have won the Iowa Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, and the National Poetry Series and have been finalists for the National Book Award and twice for the LA Times Book Award. She’s translated over 20 volumes of poetry and prose from French and has won the PEN USA Award in Literary Translation. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she is the co-editor of the Norton anthology American Hybrid and the founding editor of La Presse. She divides her time between Paris and Providence RI, where she teaches at Brown University.